BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Zach Duke is healthy and sailing through spring training.
Duke tossed five scoreless innings Monday to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. The left-hander allowed three hits, struck out one and walked none.Duke was bothered by elbow tendinitis throughout much of last season and went 3-8 with a 5.53 ERA in 20 games. He is pitching without pain this spring."Being healthy makes all the difference in the world," Duke said. "You can't even begin to understand what a difference it makes to be able to get full extension with your arm and be able to finish your pitches."Since being rocked for five runs in two innings by Cincinnati in his spring debut, Duke has given up just two runs in 12 innings in his last three starts."I thought Zach pitched really well," Pittsburgh manager John Russell said. "His sinker was really good and he complemented by throwing all of his other pitches for strikes."A.J. Burnett allowed four runs and four hits in four innings for Toronto. He walked four and struck out none.Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan pitched one scoreless inning for the second time this spring. Ryan pitched in only five games last year before having season-ending reconstructive elbow surgery."I was sore and didn't feel as sharp as I was my first time out," Ryan said. "But I made some good pitches and battled through it and put up a zero."Freddy Sanchez, Jason Bay and Nate McLouth each drove in a run for Pittsburgh.
Russell announced after the game that RHP Ian Snell will start the Pirates' opener in Atlanta on March 31. Snell signed a three-year contract Sunday that will be worth at least $8 million and includes club options for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. LHP Tom Gorzelanny will start the home opener April 7 against the Chicago Cubs. ... Toronto RHP Armando Benitez, who agreed to a minor league deal last week, could appear in a major league game as soon as Friday.